Saturday, July 31, 2021

Saturday 9 -- Dead Skunk


Saturday 9: Dead Skunk (1972)

Unfamiliar with this song? Hear it here.

1) This song is about a poor dead skunk that stinks "to high heaven." Have you ever experienced the spray from a skunk?

Only peripherally.  Thank goodness I’ve never been sprayed, or God forbid, one of my dogs sprayed.  The whole bathing in tomato juice thing (does that even work?), I just can’t even.

2) Dennis Oliver, a disc jockey in Quincy, IL, played this song every night at 9:00 PM for decades. The only thing that got him to stop was being moved to the morning slot. What song do you never tire of?

I’ve always loved ZZ Top.  The old stuff mostly—I was never a fan of their “MTV-era” albums.  In junior high, we had an assignment where we had to conduct a contemporary album of our choice.  I chose ZZ Top’s 1975 album, Fandango, specifically Tush.  It was QUITE the scandal, considering the lyrics.  My classmates loved it, the whole place was rockin’.  It was literally my only 3 minutes of popularity, ever, lol.  Anyhow, I’ve been listening to Fandango the last couple of days since Dusty Hill passed away.  Rock and roll will never be the same.

3) At Georgia Tech's Russ Chandler Stadium, the fans sing this during the 7th inning stretch of their baseball games. Do you know the lyrics of the more conventional 7th inning choice, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame?"

Only vaguely.  I enjoyed live baseball exactly 1 year, which happened to be the inaugural year of the Colorado Rockies.  They didn’t even have a ballpark yet, so the games were played in the old Mile-High Stadium in Denver….to packed seats.  It was a lot of fun, but then we moved to a town with no team at all, so there went that.

4) This week's featured artist, Loudon Wainwright III, can play many instruments, but is said to enjoy banjo and ukulele best. If you could magically become proficient on any instrument right now, which would you choose, and why?

Mandolin.  I love the sound, and the intricate picking.  I’d love to learn how to play it, if I had a musical bone in my body.  Which I don’t, sadly.

5) He appeared as Capt. Spalding on several episodes of M*A*S*H in the 1970s. If you could transport yourself into the world of your favorite TV show, which would you choose?

That’s hard!  My two favorite shows come from literal opposite ends of …. Well everything.  Downton Abbey and The Expanse.  Period drama and space opera.  I’d be happy in either world.

6) Loudon's mother was a yoga instructor. What did you most recently do for exercise?

Every other day, we take Maddie for a walk.  We’ve managed to build up to just shy of 2 miles.  Our neighborhood is built around an extensive arroyo system (dry riverbeds for those of you who don’t live in the Southwest).  Our local flood control board has placed nice, wide, paved paths along them in order to maintain the banks and so forth.  It’s a lovely way to get out an walk, lots of birds, rabbits, etc.  I am fortunate enough to have a remote and flexible job that allows me to take my lunch at around 0930 am.  We get out before the pavement gets hot, so Maddie’s feet don’t get burned…it gets crazy hot here later in the day and she won’t tolerate the little boots.  Here’s a map of one of our recent walks.  


7) He went to St. Andrew's School in Delaware, where the movie Dead Poet's Society, starring Robin Williams, was filmed. When you think of Robin Williams, do you recall his dramatic movie roles, his funny movies, his comedy routines, or Mork from Ork?

I loved him in everything, Mork the least.  One of my favorite movies of all time is Good Will Hunting.  He won an Oscar for best supporting actor for that one, and it was well-deserved.  Great movie, great actor, great role.  On the comedy side, I remember watching his live show, A Night at the Met, over and over on HBO way back in the day.  Lord, that man was funny.  And the genie, from Aladdin—genius.  What a loss to the world.

8) In 1973, when this song was popular, Norman Mailer created a great deal of buzz with his book about Marilyn Monroe. Do you read many biographies and memoirs? Or do you prefer to read fiction?

Mostly fiction.  I rarely dip my toe into biographies, and almost never memoirs.

9) Random question: You're on the road, traveling through a town you've never been in before, and ready to stop for a quick bite. On one side of the street is a cute little diner called Mom's. On the other side is McDonald's. Which do you choose?

Definitely Mom’s.  I love diner food.  Diners are pretty popular's the whole Rte. 66 thing, I think.  

Friday, July 30, 2021

Coming up--The August Happiness Challenge

It's almost time for the August Happiness Challenge, which starts August 1st, thanks to The Gal Herself!

I just realized, after looking back at my posts, that I’ve never done the Challenge in this iteration of my blog.  Wow. 

Well, time to remedy that.  I’m going to do my best to get a post in every day.  I tend to get overwhelmed with these kinds of things, but as Gal says below “it doesn’t even have to be every day if you don’t want it to be”.  I appreciate being given permission to do what I can. 

Anyhow, here’s a brief explanation of the Challenge: "Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world."

It helps if your August Happiness Challenge posts are marked with an icon. Just something that means "happy" to you.   This year, I’m going with this shot of Maddie in her "I'm happy, I'm in the sun, I'm loved" pose.  

Join me, why don’t you?  Visit me with a link to your daily August happy, and I'll come read it.  Like The Gal Herself, “I've found that experiencing other peoples' everyday pleasures is a great mood lifter.” I’d love for you to help me spread a little happiness around the world.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Sunday Stealing--Thursday Thunks


1. Did you eat paste and/or glue as a child?

Nope.  Not even a little bit.  I did like the smell of the “mucilage” (what a name, eh?) glue though….

2. Look at the wall to your right, what is on it?

A neat Coqui (the “spirit animal” of Puerto Rico, a Coqui Frog, that we bought in Puerto Rico and had shipped back), and some nifty lizards that we found at our favorite metalworking place)

3. Do you put butter and/or salt on your popcorn?

I ask you…what is the point without those things?

4. What does your favorite coffee cup look like?

I don’t really have a “favorite”.  I am an iced coffee drinker, so whatever tumbler is lying around clean is good enough for me.

5. Would you rather have a pet hippo or a pet elephant?

Elephant, I’m thinking, cause they are so intelligent.  But either one takes up an awful lot of space…

6. Toilet Paper - hard, soft, extra soft?

I’m all for the “sturdy” stuff.  Extra soft tends to disintegrate, and hard, well, I think of the sort of waxed-paper feel of business restrooms.  Whatever is sort of soft and relatively strong works for me.

7. Have you ever rescued/taken in a stray animal?

Um, only like ALL of them.  We have 4 cats and a dog, and they are all rescues.  I would NEVER buy an animal, when so many need homes.  This is a mission near and dear to my heart (and wallet).  Here they are, in order of age (and when we got them).

Randall (kitty-boy, boobs, bubba).  This guy was our first pet together.  We adopted him from the county shelter, and he was so filthy, and so sick, we had to a) give him a full bath in the sink, and b) take him to the vet pretty much immediately.  He is such a good boy, and is a talker.  He’s our only boy in the house (other than hubs).  Hubs had his tonsils out the week we got Randall, so they recovered together, and have a special bond.  His respiratory system was so damaged when we got him that he has a permanent wheeze and uses his accessory muscles to breathe…but he’s a happy indoor kitty, so all good.

Ellie.  We felt like Randall needed a buddy, so we got Ellie (also from the county shelter).  We call her the “sleepy-time snuggle-bunny”.  She loves to snuggle, but is also very noisy….but her “miaow” is more like an “eeeehhhww”.  Hard to describe, but imagine a kitten noise, and that’s her.  She will snuggle up against you and then yell at you until you settle.  I love her.

Lucy.  A former boss decided to get a pet for her TODDLERS.  Who does that??!!!!  Anyhow, the toddlers abused this poor kitty, and boss lady decided to “take her back”.  I was like, “no fucking way is that girl going back to the county pound”.  So we took her.  

She’s very shy, and has always struggled with her weight.  These days, she spend a lot of time in her special cat tree (in my office, that is pretty much just hers). 

Lily.  OMG.  Lily is…. a force of nature.  True story, Lily was abandoned by her former owners when they got evicted.  We saw her sitting across the street on a porch, and thought she was a kitten.  We decided to save her, and took her to the vet.  Turns out this 1.5# cat was a 3 year old spayed adult.  So we thought.  Long story short, vet tells us she’s fixed, we move on.  Lily is a challenge, pees on the counters, pees in the corners, OMG, we had such challenges.  We get to NM, and she gets really sick.  Vet says “oh hey by the way, she has pyometra and could die”.  She was NOT fixed, and almost died.  One  VERY expensive (and worth it) emergency hysterectomy later, Lily is …. Slightly wild, VERY alpha, and pretty much beats everyone (including us) into submission, weighing all of about 6 pounds.  

Maddie.  The latest addition to our home.  Maddie was on “death row” in the public shelter in Carlsbad NM.  Our local no-kill shelter did a “Molly’s Mission” to Carlsbad and saved her.  She was found in a culvert, with 8 puppies.  She had been abused, her leg broken, lost a toe somewhere along the way.  She was fostered, and all the puppies were adopted.  We met her and were lost…that face.  So sweet.  It was hard.  We trained her through AKC intermediate, but her anxiety and barking got wayyyyyyy out of hand.  Long story short, behavioral vet, behavioral plan, meds, and she’s happy, we’re happy (took two years of reinforcement, so no quick fix here).  She’s terrified beyond all belief of fireworks, so we left town this year just for her (because we love her that much) and it helped immensely.  She has filled our lives and we love our daily walkies and lovies.  She’s such a good girl.

Last, but never least, our sweet girl Ginger.  She came from the county shelter.  Happy, lived for walks, hardly ever barked, neurotic as hell, and the sweetest pup.  Rest in peace good girl, chasing bunnies for ever.  We got 13 amazing years with her, each and every one a privilege.

8. If you realize your house is on fire while you are using the bathroom, do you wipe or just run for the door?

Fucking run.

9. Now, if you only had $10 to buy one thing, what would it be?

Something tasty to eat.

10. What’s your favorite type of potato?

Yukon Golds or Sweet Potatoes

11. How long do you keep unmatched socks before you get rid of them... and how do you dispose of these socks?

Socks are not a big deal to me.  If I run out of matched socks, I buy more.  I don’t like …match them up.

12. What was the last thing you took a picture of?


13. Do you use a cookbook?

Many, plus online recipes.

14. Bottled or tap water?

We have very hard water here in the Land of Enchantment.   So not tap.  We have filters on both the fridge and the sink.  So filtered.

15. Do you like pumpkin pie? Do you cheat and buy a premade one or do you make it from scratch? Heck, do you even make pumpkin pie at all?

I can take it or leave it.  I've never made one.  I'm not really a fan of sweets.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Saturday 9 -- Purple People Eater


Saturday 9: Purple People Eater (1958)

Unfamiliar with this song? Hear it here.

1) When actor Sheb Wooley brought this song to MGM Records, they initially rejected it, saying it just wasn't the kind of thing they wanted to be associated with. Then executives discovered how popular the audition recording was with the 20-somethings in the office. MGM released it after all and it became a #1 hit. Tell us about a time you were glad you changed your mind about something.

I have been working my butt off for the last year in hopes of getting promoted to a supervisory position.  My director has had my back 100%, but leadership further up the chain didn’t want to add a position.  A few weeks ago, a couple of projects were handed to me from the up the chain leadership folks that I just didn’t have the bandwidth for.  I had a private hissy fit, and decided then and there that I was done doing tons of extra work for nothing. 

I decided to apply for a job at the corporate level that is completely new to me, which is super exciting.  AND I got it!!!  My new job is much more on the healthcare finance side of things, in an area called revenue integrity.  My new title is RN Charge Integrity Auditor.  I got a fat raise.  AND I still get to work remotely.  I’m super thrilled I changed my mind about wanting to be a manager.  Time to climb a new mountain!

2) This song has been so enduringly popular that in the 1970s, the Minnesota Vikings defensive line referred to themselves as the Purple People Eaters. What football team do you root for?

Don’t follow sports. 

3) The song was initially inspired by Sputnik, the satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1958. In the 21st century, do you think space exploration is a worthwhile public investment? Or would you prefer  governments spend that money here on earth?

Exploration is ALWAYS a worthwhile public investment.  And the way things are going here on Earth, we’re going to need to go somewhere….

4) The Purple People Eater is a visitor from another planet. When you imagine creatures from outer space, are they frightening or friendly?


5) This record was the biggest hit Sheb Wooley ever had. He was better known as an actor, costarring with Clint Eastwood on the 1950s TV show, Rawhide. What's your favorite Clint Eastwood movie? 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  Any of his spaghetti westerns, really.

6) Sheb and Clint remained buddies and appeared together decades later in The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). Tell us about one of your longest-lasting friendships.

I don’t really have any.  Moving around my whole life pretty much kicked the crap out of having long-time friends.  I would have to say hubs is my longest-lasting friendship. 

7) In 1958, when this song was popular, hula hoops were a national craze. Did you ever play with a hula hoop? If yes, were you good at it?

Yes and definitely no.  Never mastered it.

8) Also in 1958, Arnold Palmer won his first Masters Golf Tournament. When did you most recently play golf?

Putt-Putt, back in Florida.  A longgggg time ago.

9) Random question: Do you believe women gossip more than men?


Saturday, July 10, 2021

Tripping down Memory Lane--Boston and Points South (and North)

June was exhausting, ya'll.  But fun.  Lot's of fun.  My mother and I made a trip back East to the Boston area.  It was a trip down memory lane, so to speak.  When my mother emigrated here as a displaced person in 1952, they settled in the tiny town of Carver, on what is called the South Shore.  They later moved to the slightly larger town of Hanover, and she went to school in Plymouth.  My father's family has long history on Cape Cod and the South Shore, and my parents met in Hanover, when they were in high school.  They married, and lived their early married life in various towns on the South Shore (Abingdon, Halifax, Rockland, and Brockton).  My father worked at the Quincy Navy Yard after he got out of the Navy, and my mother went to Northeastern.  They went up to Boston to see the Celtics and the Bruins play at the old Boston Garden, to shop, and to have fun.  We went to all those places, Mom and I, and a few places that were new to both of us (the North End and Gloucester).  

We left Massachusetts in 1967, and went back a few times for vacations.  This was really a way of me connecting with my heritage.  Many stories were told, and much fun was had.  I sure hope my few readers enjoy this trip down our memory lane.

Day 1--Travel sucks.  I won't ever fly American again.  Everything late.  On the up side, arranging for escort for my Mom, who used a cane on this trip because long distances mess up her balance, was absolutely key.  It was a 30 minute walk from the gate to the rideshare area in Boston, and the lovely Russian gentleman who rolled Mom along was great fun.  Mom was not happy about this in the beginning, or rather the idea of this.  By the time we got to the rideshare area, she was thanking me profusely.  Whew.  Disaster averted.  Uber was our friend bigtime in Boston.  Checked into the the lovely Hilton Boston Downtown/Fanueil Hall.  Everyone was super nice.  Hubs sent us a gift basket with a card "have a wicked pissah of a time".    We rested in the hotel restaurant "Fin Point" and enjoyed the oyster happy hour (1$ oysters).  They were salty and fantastic.  We both share a love of raw oysters.   For dinner, we had cod tacos.  Also fantastic.  We flew 2000 miles to have tacos, which cracked me up.  "But they are NEW ENGLAND tacos!" said Mom.

Day 2--Our big activity on the second day was a fantastic food and culture tour of the North End of Boston.  This is also known as "Little Italy".  Mom and Dad never really spent any time in this neighborhood, so it was new for her as well as me.  The tour guide was a 50 something year old Italian American who has resided in the neighborhood his entire life.  He was awesome!!!  I think he literally knew everyone we ran into, and was a charmer.  We checked out salumerias (Italian delis), various restaurants, walked by the Laundromat used as the Bank in Ben Affleck's movie "The Town", and had the most amazing Italian sub.  We ended with a cannoli the size of my arm (it felt like it, all we had room for was 1 bite each) that was heavenly.  Learned lots of cool neighborhood history along the way and ended at Paul Revere's statue.  Sadly the Old North Church (one if by land...two if by sea) was closed, but we did get to see it.  Very similar to the last photo in this set, which is the Old South Church, in the financial district.

Day 3-- This was an amazing day.  We hopped an Uber to the Museum of Fine Arts.  I remember going to this museum when I was a kid.  The MFA is one of the top 10 museums in the world, and we were fortunate enough to see an extensive Monet exhibit.  Also works by Cezanne, lots of portraits (I love them, especially John Singer Sargent) and amazing pieces in the Egyptian collection.  We ended our day at a favorite of my parent's--The Union Oyster House.  We had been dreaming about Ipswich clams (or belly clams) and they did not disappoint.  Sweet, tasty, fried, and delicious.  This was the first of many clam orders we had over the course of the trip.  You just can't get these things anywhere else but New England.

I had never seen these two pieces by Monet--studies of Rouen Cathedral. They were my favorite pieces in the collection.

The famous "Water Lilies"

Love the colors in this piece, and failed to write down the painter.  It was housed near the Gauguin collection. 

I was in awe of this famous Degas.  Literally speechless.  I have seen countless pictures of it, but to be standing right there was another highlight.

We walked through Quincy Market, past Fanueil Hall on the way to the Union Oyster House.  Quincy Market was not nearly as vibrant as I remember--very few carts, hardly any street performers.  Boston had just reopened from COVID a week prior, so hopefully it will all come back.  This was an amazing festival of colors, smells, sights, and sounds back in the day.

Mom looks happy, doesn't she?!

The inevitable "chowda".  Not my favorite of the trip, but not bad.  I like my Mom's best :)

Ipswich ("belly") clams.  OMG.  To.Die.For.

Belly full of clams, and happy as one!

Day 4 - We left Boston today and headed for the South Shore.  Picking up our rental car was an adventure, but Enterprise made it very easy.  I am so proud of myself for driving in Boston!!!  The drivers there suck worse than the ones here in New Mexico, and the city itself makes no sense whatsoever.  Not a nice handy grid system like NYC...the roads just wander all over the place.  We made it out of the city and headed to Hanover where we had lunch at a little joint that had the best BLTs and their chowder was phenomenal.  Mom said that when she and Dad were young, it was an ice cream stand.  We also went to the cemetery to visit my Oma and Opa's grave.  We made arrangements to have the gravesite worked on and the headstone cleaned.  Then we went to the first house my Opa built in Hanover.  He was a talented carpenter and also made furniture.

After leaving Hanover, we drove to a favorite place of my parent's, Duxbury Beach.  We have pictures in our albums of Mom and Dad with me and and my brother as toddlers, playing in tidal pools, riding on Dad's shoulders, and having fun in the sun.  It was pretty chilly this particular day.  Duxbury is a town, and the beach is privately held by the town.  There is a long wooden bridge to get to it, which you can walk across if you aren't a resident.  It was gorgeous.

Duxbury bridge from the town side, beach in the distance.

Dune roses blooming

Mom says this beach was beautiful, soft sand when she was young, but very rocky now.

We ended our day by checking into to the Hotel 1620 in Plymouth.  We walked across Water Street to the harbor, and had a lovely dinner at the East Bay Grille.  Lobster Rolls!!!!  My paternal great-grandfather was a lobsterman in Dennis Port, on Cape Cod.  When Dad was still alive, he told me stories about all the lobsters his grandfather would bring home.  Luxury to us, but cheap food for them.

Day 5 - Plymouth and Carver

My mother was a displaced person who emigrated to the US in 1952.  She is an ethnic German, however for several generations, her family were weavers in a small town called Constantinov, in Poland, a German Enclave.  Long story short, her country ceased to exist in 1945, and the family escaped into the West ahead of the Russian Army.  She lived as a refugee in 1945, without a passport, without a country.  In 1952, the Lutheran Church brought her family to America, and settled them in Carver, Massachusetts.  They lived in a small cabin on this cranberry bog, without plumbing or running water.   This was the saddest part of the trip, I think.  It was a hard time for the family, they spoke no English, and had no money.  My Oma raised chickens and had a kitchen garden to keep them fed.  My Opa was able to get a job, and they moved to Hanover where he built them a house (earlier in this story).  

My mother is on the far right in this picture.  I've always thought she was the saddest little girl I ever saw in a picture.  I'm so proud of her, and in awe of the life she made for herself. 

This workshop is on the site of the cabin my Mom lived in when they first came to America.  It burned down decades ago.  It is in a very rural area of Carver, MA, on a cranberry bog.

Neither Mom nor I had ever been to Plimoth Plantation.  It is now called Plimoth/Patuxet and also addresses the significant Native American population located in the area at the time that the Puritans landed.  We both learned SO MUCH.  The stories they told us in school were so wrong as to be laughable.  I'm really glad we went.  

More clams!  This was another Plymouth restaurant on the harbor.  More of a clam shack (outside seating) than a fancy restaurant.  Clams were tasty.

Here's the Mayflower II.  We also boarded it, and were blown away by how incredibly small it was.  About 100 people crossed the Atlantic on this thing.  Wow.

Mom and I at Plymouth Rock.  Nope, the Puritans did not land there.  But it was neat, anyhow.  I remember going there as a child (of course, full of all the BS they fed us in school).  

Looking up the main street of Plymouth.  It was a lovely day!

Day 5 -  was spent seeing the only family we have left in New England--we aren't close to them, and haven't been for decades, but it was fine.  Nothing special. 

Day 6- back to Boston.  A stormy day.  We drove to another place that was important to my Mom and Dad--Brant Rock.  In fact, my paternal grandmother's ashes were scattered off this jetty per her wishes.

Settled in our hotel at Logan.  Can't recommend the Hilton Logan Airport enough--this was so very convenient--it's connected to terminals A and E and has a great shuttle that takes you everywhere.  We used it to take us to the water taxi for a trip across Boston Bay to the city.

Mom chilling in the lobby at the Hilton Logan.  I love this picture!

Day 7 - spent the day wandering about the Boston Public Garden and the Bostom Common.  Peaceful.

Water Taxi for a trip across Boston Bay.

Boston from the Water Taxi.

"Make Way for Ducklings"--this sculpture is based on a famous book of the same title by Robert McCloskey, first published in 1941.

We were pretty disappointed that the famous swan boats of the Public Garden weren't running this particular day.

We ended our big day with more 1$ Duxbury oysters at Fin Point.  How could you not!?

Day 8 - Off to Gloucester!  Neither Mom nor I had ever been to the North Shore of Boston.  Gloucester is a very old fishing village on Cape Ann.  If you've ever seen the show "Wicked Tuna"--Gloucester is where the tuna fleet goes out.  Also, it is relatively close to Jeffrey's Ledge and Stellwagen Bank--two areas in the Gulf of Maine that are protected marine sanctuaries and are known for an very large whale population.  We had a wonderful day whale watching with 7 Seas Whale Watch and exploring this quaint and vibrant village.   We spent about 2 hours following Nile and Scylla, two female humpback whales.  It was a great trip.

We ended our day with what else but CLAMS!  So fresh.  These were the best yet, at Gloucester House right on the dock.  Great day, just great.

Day 9 - Travel.  Ugg.  More travel.  Delays.  Packed planes.  But we made it back to Albuquerque in one piece and with all our luggage.  So there was that :)

I'll never forget this amazing trip and all the memories I heard, and made, with my Mom.